Mark's post-show 3 chat.
Channel 4 online chat (post show 3 17/01/01)

 

Mark Thomas : Hello folks :)

ChatEd : Hi Mark, Welcome...

Mark Thomas : How you doing?

Hasan : Heya
Gavin_Arnold : I've got a knife. Do you like knives?

ChatEd : You sitting comfortably?

Mark Thomas : Heheh. Uncomfortably, but I'll do :)

ChatEd : Okay, here we go...

angelo : how many houses do you recon he has?


Mark Thomas : Um... we're reasonably confident that there are more. How many there are we don't know. As you saw on the show, we've found five, two of which he's renting out, it appears. Really we don't know because he won't tell us, despite the recommendation in the Register Of Members Interests. That's why we need as many people as possible to get in contact with us. There'll be loads of people - builders, carpenters, plumbers, delivery men and women, who might know where those flats are and who owns them, or who worked on them. Anyone who's got anything, email us: theproduct@channel4.com, or get in contact with the Vera office.

John A : DO MP 'S HAVE TO DECLARE MONEY MADE FROM RENTING PROPERTY?

Mark Thomas : They're supposed to declare any income. Meacher, as you saw, said 'flats let in London', so he's declaring income... but he doesn't NUMBER how many flats he has, as the Register recommends he does. But yes, they have to declare. Any income, they have to declare.

jason lanzoni : do you think he is the only minister doing this?

Mark Thomas : Well the original tip-off we had was 'ministerS', and the number of names I heard was four or five... so it is possible, entirely possible, that there are more ministers doing this, and that's why we need people's help!

martin_S : How hard is it for you to stomach that all the things you exposed the Tories for doing a few years ago, Labour seem to be repeating now?

Mark Thomas : I didn't have that many illusions about the Labour party when they came to office... in fact, I remember performing two days after they won the election, and the opening line of the gig was: 'Forgive me for being self-indulgent but I've waited 18 years to say this. (pause)... That Labour Government, what a bunch of f**king bastards!'
Mark Thomas : What's galling is that people who are supposedly on the Left of the Labour Party, have more in common with the Tories than with the people they represent, but I guess that's the nature of power. Whoever you vote for, the Government gets in!
Mark Thomas grins

Soviet Si : Why isn't meachy forced to sell his properties, or to rent them at a 'socially affordable rate' in line with his so-called ethics/policies?

Mark Thomas : Because he's done nothing legally wrong, though I do think that in a better world he would be forced to give them up to people who need them! I live in South London, and you know, how long does it take for you to see people who need houses? Or better houses? What's amazing is that he can purport to say that he's in favour of socially affordable housing that should be INTEGRATED, and yet be buying up properties that do EXACTLY the opposite? As to whether shame will actually force him to do anything, I don't know. It depends on whether your world vision encompasses politicians HAVING a sense of shame :)

Red Trash : Mark, if you want to know something about this whole housing bullshit, I'm sure I know I guy who can help you. If you want his email address I'll be happy to give it to you.
stuarts : You highlighted MPs declaring their interests. Is the same true for judges, heads of quangos, government departments, local councillors etc.


Mark Thomas : ALL info gratefully received! Please EMAIL it. Don't post it up on the forums. stuarts - local councillors, yeah, they have to declare interests. I *think* they also have to declare their partners' interests, which is not the case for MPs but it certainly should be, as Mrs Meacher is a director of three property companies! Certainly on quangos, they should be forced to register interests. I know in the past we've actually caught out a member of the Export Credit Guarantee Department Advisory Committee not declaring her interests correctly... she {Lesley Knox} resigned on the day of the show. I think the other point to make here is that at present, the Commissioner for Members Interests cannot force Mr Meacher to comply with the recommendation, nor can she at present assist our investigation. So it really is up to everyone out there!

stallionchjle : so in theory meacher could have more properties under his wife's name?
Hiskiss : What action can you take to follow up this outrage?


Mark Thomas : IN THEORY, yes, but we believe that he could possibly have other properties in his own name. Obviously we're gonna, you know, we'll return to the subject, that's what we'll be doing. But people need to decide whether they've had enough of a two-party system with one ideology and whether their votes for the lesser of two evils should continue to be cast... it might be time that people started saying, the party I vote for might lose, but at least I'll be voting for something that I can vaguely believe in! Whether it be Green, Socialist Alliance, Independent Socialist... or turning round and saying bollocks to the lot of them. It's often the case that the work that campaigners do OUTSIDE of Parliament has far more effect in changing people's lives. But in this instance, I think publicity, embarrassment and knowledge.... our right to know, our right to have information.

ChatEd : Sorry Mark a quick change of subject, lots of people are asking...
goggs : when will the mepsinterests site come back on line?


Mark Thomas : There's a few problems goggs, with translations, that we're trying to iron out. We want to put it back up asap, the good news is that we've embarrassed the European Parliament enough for the quaestors to be recommending that they put up an official version up asap, rather than continue to expose themselves to ridicule. Thank you everyone who has sent in info about MEPs - if you have any more send it in, and we are following it all up.

Yorick : I can understand having a go at Meacher for a bit of hypocrisy in owning a few properties and that, but wouldn't it be easier (though less fun) to attack his appalling and even more hypocritical environmental policy?

Mark Thomas : Yorick - We just don't have enough time on TV! That's the fact of the matter - we have to put everything into 24 minutes. As you know, the show has covered quite a few environmental issues in the past, and obviously it's a subject which I feel 'quite passionate about'

slimtonone : if there were two pieces of information you could obtain, in your wildest dreams... what would they be?

Mark Thomas : Ooh... That's a very interesting question. I'd like to know more about the Bildenberg Group, I think that's it, and the successor generation. The other bits of information I require are on, God's blueprints, and Elvis' whereabouts. At the moment we'll settle for ANYTHING about ministers housing. That's the issue that we feel is important at the moment.

mrben : Why did the councillors from Oldham leave the party, and what was their supposed grudge?

Mark Thomas : Their exact quote when I asked them was: 'We didn't leave the Labour Party, the Labour Party left us.' I think they felt betrayed, that a party that had promised them so much in opposition against conservatism, thatcherism, laissez-faire economic policies... turned out to be so familiar. Meacher believes that they hold a grudge against him purely because they left the Party... I think.

andyjohnson : Mark, last question, should politicians be ordinary people with the same rights, or extraordinary people who should curtail personal rights for the privilege of representing the people !?

Mark Thomas : Politicians should, if we are to follow the road of parliamentary democracy:
We should have proportional representation
They should be paid the national average wage
They should be reelected every two years
They should have a maximum of two terms in office
and they should be forced to account for their actions, in front of a representative of the people, someone like, Torquemada.

Gary Moore : HEAR! HEAR!

Sonic : Have you received any feedback from the Meachy press officer in regard to you questions?


Mark Thomas : No! Mr Meacher decided to deal with us himself... You saw his responses!

John Barker : Mark, I've some info on another of your targets, Nestle. I'm Emailing you now. Great show again. Never trusted Meacher, even when I met him during the miner's strike. John Barker.

Mark Thomas : Thank you very very much, John! Refer people to the NME - as Nestle are trying to do a sponsorship deal with the Virgin V festival, to get popstars' endorsements. Jarvis Cocker, Ian Brown and Dodgy have said no. Hurray! People might like to write to I think it's Cast Shed 7 and Ocean Colour Scene to ask them why they appear to have said yes.

Modeski : Your series' are always bloody brilliant, but they never seem to be long enough! Is it because you spend the rest of the time researching? Or are you avoiding arrest/and or murder the rest of the time? ;p

Mark Thomas chuckles
Mark Thomas : Well to tell you the truth... when we're in series it tends to be sort of 24 hours a day for months on end, and at the end of the last series, I went on with a group of other people from the Kurdish Human Rights Project, Friends of the Earth and the Corner House to form the Ilisu Dam Campaign, which is the dam that is proposed to be built in Turkey that will throw 25 to 78000 Kurds off of their land. So I do keep busy! My family also quite like seeing me.

Sherlock : Is your main aim (with the show) to entertain or to inform the viewers of 'naughty' things going on around us every day?
Mr-Blond : have contacts in Norfolk County Council ever need any research help in my region I would be happy to help.


Mark Thomas : Main aim is both, Sherlock. Gratefully received, Blond! We did try following up a story there regarding a guy who employed Lithuanian and Russian immigrants to work cropping. And although we never got to do the story fully, from what I saw it was pretty wild west, so any help gratefully received.

Sherlock : Have you ever been arrested, charged, threatened with arrest etc. from something you did on the show?

Mark Thomas : He he he he he
Mark Thomas : I did actually answer this on the last chat, but, I was unofficially cautioned... for sticking boards with figures about Virgin Rail's performance onto Virgin Rail trains, in Euston station and also broadcasting facts and figures about Virgin from a toilet on a Virgin train via a walkie talkie and a hidden speaker unit. But that's as near as it got.

JimiVicious : How many houses have YOU got Mr Thomas, sorry I ain't got a 100 cheque! ;)

Mark Thomas grins
Mark Thomas : Just the one. I find it's all I need to live in! Though if I ever become a millionaire, (like f**king hell), I wouldn't mind a beach hut. (by the way, that'll cost you 100 quid :)

Roy : Mark do you think you're programme is watched by any of those in the higher echelons of office..... and if so do you think it has any effect?

Mark Thomas : Roy. Yes, they certainly do watch it. I mean, just from noticing who logs on to the websites... you can spot some very interesting folk having a look to see what's going on. I don't think any of those in power watch to see where they're going wrong... they probably watch to improve their PR skills.

madscotsman : hey - what's you're honest opinion on the selling of Council Houses? Mad Maggie might actually have done something to preserve social cohesion....

Mark Thomas : No. I think for a start we paid for those houses, so it's our money that they're selling. Secondly - you cannot rely on the private property market to meet people's housing needs. Very simply because the market will always try to get as much as it can.

landed gent : It makes me really angry that politicians avoid or ignore perfectly legitimate questions, what can we do to force them to be accountable to the electorate?
kath : can't you trace all his properties through the taxes he pays on received rent?


Mark Thomas : gent, what we need is some gaffer tape, a car with its license plates blacked out... :) short of that, it's only by continual haranguing that they will answer questions AND by bringing in an effective Freedom Of Information Act.
Mark Thomas : kath - I could if I worked in the Inland Revenue and was prepared to break the law! - he he he he - But as he appears to have registered these things as a private individual rather than a company, then we can't get access to his accounts.

MattH18 : Do you think we'll ever have a Freedom of Information Act to rival that of the one in America?

Mark Thomas : If enough people shout for it, then eventually we'll get one!' But it's like all things you have to force politicians, they never go willingly to the trough of change!

ChatEd : Okay we've got time for a couple more questions...
samc : mark did you know that it is government policy to sell off council housing stock Exeter are just about to sell all theirs (my home)?


Mark Thomas : I didn't know that about Exeter, sam. You know the e-mail address, get in touch!
Mark Thomas : theproduct@channel4.com :)

ChatEd : last one...

Andrew1 : Where do you think the 'Mins' learn how to answer questions without telling you anything is there some bullshit course at Oxford and Cambridge?


Mark Thomas chuckles
Mark Thomas : I think that helps! I think they... if you look at how people answer questions in the House of Commons, it's standard practice to answer questions in such a way as to preclude any information or further questioning! I think it's the culture that politicians work in.

ChatEd : Right, thanks for coming Mark. That's the lot

Sonic : I think I say it for everybody who is logged on tonight, THANK YOU! and keep it going :-)
mountain bloke : We need a revolution and a constitution bye bye and goodnight
jason lanzoni : bye mark.
whytey : Cheers Mark!
N Cusack : Thanks a lot Mark
Monkman : anarchy rules =?)
Wilfief : Hope you come back next week mark! Cheers mate!


Mark Thomas : Thanks a lot for logging on, everyone, Channel 4 willing, hopefully we'll talk soon!

angelo : thanks for coming on again
Sarah2 : Gonna e mail you about council houses sell off.
apollo jaysea : bye mark!....keep up the good work...POWER TO THE PEOPLE!


Mark Thomas : Watch next week! A group of 13 year old kids hold a senior executive in a multinational to account!

frogboy : keep up the good work!!
fluffy_sheeps : hope to see you soon mark KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
MathsCat : It's been extremely interesting - even if I didn't get to ask a question, Bye Mark! Love the show, keep it going.


Mark Thomas waves
Mark Thomas : Good night all, write in!
Mark Thomas leaves the room

ChatEd : Thanks Mark.

C4 ED : If you would like to contact Mark Thomas you can email him at theproduct@channel4.com

How to apply for your info / Mark's post-show / MT vs BB & ECGD on MTP /www.mtp2001.co.uk / Thanks to friends...